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House of MouseI’m a huge #Disney fan.  So when the opportunity presented itself to speak at the #PRSASunshine District Conference in Orlando, I was happy to accept.  I knew I’d get some time at Epcot, have the chance to share some insights with fellow PR practitioners, but what I didn’t expect was the opportunity to listen to a true Disney insider share ideas on innovation and creativity.

Duncan Wardle is vice president of Walt Disney Co.’s Creative Inc.  He describes Creative Inc. as (paraphrased): a group of creative ideation & innovation catalysts that look at things differently, bringing unique perspectives, approaches and insights that spark revolutionary thinking and big ideas. We work across the Disney organization as "creative ideation consultants" and "cultural change agents" that design engaging, collaborative forums that capture unlikely connections and produce new ideas.

So picture a typical ballroom setting, opening session, 175 people learning how to think differently, how to step out of their comfort zone and get to a creative idea that can be mutually agreed upon and implemented.

Creativity: Habit of continually doing things in new ways for a positive difference in a work environment.

There were a few take-aways for me as it relates to establishing a safe place for brainstorming to happen.

  • “Yes, and” – when sharing ideas with the team, be aware of how you are encouraging feedback. Do you answer encouragingly with “yes, and then we can do XYZ” or are you more likely to say “yes, but perhaps we should do ABC.”  The “yes, and” approach will lead you someplace much quicker and collaborative.
  • Invite the “naïve experts” to the session. Most of us bring together members of the project team to brainstorm ideas.  And we’ll usually end of up with a list that gets filed and never looked at. Consider inviting the naïve expert to the table.  The person who isn’t part of the team, comes from a different department or a different discipline within the company.  They will always think differently about the challenge at hand and will get you to a different set of ideas.
  • Be ok with ELMO. No one wants to be the one to stop the flow of conversation during a brainstorming session. But if you agree that ELMO is ok, you have permission to say to the group Enough. Let’s Move On (ELMO) and switch gears.

He closed his session with a video that shows what happens when Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Ana, Elsa, Olaf, Cinderella, Buzz Lightyear and other Disney Characters magically surprise unsuspecting shoppers with their #Disneyside. Even if you’re not a Disney fan, you gotta admit this is pretty awesome.

Abbie S. Fink
Abbie S. Fink
Vice President/General Manager Abbie has been doing public relations her whole life…from organizing a picket line in 6th grade to organizing client communications today. She’s passionate about a lot of things, you’ll see. Check out Abbie's full bio

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